About Sickkids
About SickKids

Meredith Irwin, MD

The Hospital for Sick Children
Staff Oncologist

Associate Chair (Research)

Research Institute
Senior Scientist
Cell Biology

University of Toronto
Associate Professor
Department of Paediatrics & Institute of Medical Sciences

Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 302912
Fax: 416-813-5327
e-mail: meredith.irwin@sickkids.ca

Brief Biography

Dr. Irwin received her Bachelors of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988. She then received her Medical Degree in 1992 from Harvard Medical School. She completed her Paediatric Residency at the Boston Children’s Hospital in 1995, and continued subspecialty training (fellowship) in Paediatric Hematology-Oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1998 Dr. Irwin was appointed as an Instructor of Paediatrics at Harvard Medical School and was on staff at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as a Clinician-Scientist, spending approximately 80 per cent of her time performing basic science research, and 20 per cent as a staff physician in the inpatient and outpatient oncology and bone marrow transplantation wards.

In 1997 Dr. Irwin began a research fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. William Kaelin, a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her research was supported by grants from the American Cancer Society and the National Institute of Health. During her research fellowship, Dr. Irwin studied the role of the newly identified p53-related genes, p73 and p63, in cancer. p53 is the most commonly altered gene in human cancer.

Dr. Irwin joined the Division of Haematology-Oncology at SickKids in April 2002 as a Clinician-Scientist. She has set up a research laboratory in the Cell Biology Research Program. Her laboratory studies the role of the p53-family of genes in tumour cell death pathways, and specifically how treatments, such as chemotherapy, use these genes to kill tumour cells.

Since joining SickKids Dr. Irwin has been awarded funding from CIHR, NCIC and as well, has been awarded a Canada Research Chair (Tier II).

Areas of Specialty:

Neuroblastoma, Solid Tumours.

Clinical Care Activities

My clinical activities are focused on the care of children with solid tumours, and mainly neuroblastoma. I am the SickKids Primary investigator for several Children's Oncology Group (COG) Neuroblastoma clinical trials and am a member of the COG Neuroblastoma Biology committee. I also run a SickKids neuroblastoma tumour banking protocol.

Academic Background

Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Fellowship
Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Massachusetts, 1995-07-01 - 1998-07-01

Research Interests

  • Role of p53 family genes (p73 and p63) in cancer and chemotherapy sensitivity
  • Identification of p73 and p63 interacting proteins and post-translational modifications
  • Role of p53 family proteins in Neuroblastoma
  • Novel therapies for metastatic Neuroblatoma

External Funding

Canada Research Chair (CRC)
Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI)
Ontario Research Fund (ORF)


 PREA (Premier's Research Excellence Awards)
 ICRF Women of Action Award (2013)
 Canada Research Chair


Irwin MS, Marin MC, Phillips AC, Seelan RS, Smith DI, Liu W, Flores EF, Tsai KY, Jacks T, Vousden KH, Kaelin WG Jr.  Role for the p53 homolog p73 in E2F-1 induced apoptosis.  Nature.  2000:407(6804);645-48.

Irwin MS, Kondo K, Marin MC, Cheng LS, Hahn WC, Kaelin WG Jr.  Chemosensitivity linked to p73 function.  Cancer Cell.  2003:3;403-10. 

Lau LM, Nugent-Wolter J, Zhao X, Irwin MS.HDM2 antagonist Nutlin-3 disrupts p73-HDM2 binding and enhances p73 function. Oncogene  2008: 27 (7): 997-1003.

Lau LMS, Nugent-Wolter JK, Lau JTML, Cheng LS, Smith KM, Hansford LM, Zhang L, Baruchel SB, Robinson F, and Irwin MS. Cox inhibitors differentially modulate pro and anti-apoptotic p73 isoforms in neuroblastoma. Oncogene, 2009: May 14; 28(19):2024-33.

Chung JK, Lau JTML, Cheng LS, Grant RI, Robinson F, Ketela T, Pintor dos Reis P, Roche O, Moffat J, Kamel-Reid S, Ohh M, Perez-Ordonez B, Kaplan DR, Irwin MS. SATB2 augments (delta) Np63 (alpha)-mediated transrepression: implications for chemosensitivity EMBO Reports 2010,11(10):777-83.

Watson IR, Irwin MS, Ohh M. Nedd8 Pathways in Cancer, Sine Quibus Non. Cancer Cell 2011 19(2): 168-76 (Review).

Chung JK, Kaplan DR, Irwin MS. SATB2 binding distinguishes AEC- and EEC-disease causing p63alpha mutants Journal of Biological Chemistry 2011: 286(47): 40671-80.

Ashraf K, Shaikh F, Gibson P, Baruchel S, Irwin MS. Long-term Topotecan and Cyclophosphamide for first relapse of neuroblastoma. Pediatric Blood and Cancer, in press; 2013 May 3. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24587. [Epub ahead of print]

Morgenstern DA, Baruchel S,  Irwin MS. Current and future strategies for relapsed neuroblastoma: challenges on the road to precision therapy Journal of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, 2013 May 22. [Epub ahead of print] (invited review)